Author: Lauren Hunsberger | Photography: Yasmeen Nayfeh | Posted In: Meet | April 2022
Bellevue Club members Ashley and Joci Besecker want to make eating wild, local seafood more than a meal—they started their company, Premier Catch, with the goal of creating a healthier lifestyle for everyone from professional athletes to toddlers.
Sisters-in-law Ashley and Joci Besecker had the idea for Premier Catch, an ocean-to-table seafood company, for decades. “We thought and joked about it for 20 years,” Joci says. But it wasn’t until the pandemic that the idea fully coalesced.
With so many families stuck at home, the need for access to quality seafood delivery and purchasing grew exponentially, and the Beseckers thought they might be exactly the right people to fill the need.
After all, the women were in a rare position. Years prior, when Ashley and Joci married their respective husbands, Tyler and Jeff, they joined a Pacific Northwest seafood dynasty. Their father-in-law, Dana, started the Dana F. Besecker Company in the 1980s, and it still provides millions of pounds of high-quality seafood to 54 countries today.
“This was our time to get the product we have exclusive access to into other people’s homes,” Joci says. “Using our unique perspective and expertise to create something new.”
And both bring different skillsets to the table. Ashley is a registered dietitian and nutritional genetics specialist to professional athletes, and Joci is a self-taught chef for her large family. Plus, they both are busy mothers—meaning they understand the benefits of reliable access to wild seafood, no matter the age or lifestyle. “Basically, we are the consumers,” Ashley says. “And we thought about that every step of the way.”
As the vision for Premier Catch grew, however, they realized they wanted to deliver something more than just a product. They wanted to create a complete lifestyle brand with the end goal of making it more convenient—and fun—for Americans to eat more wild seafood.
“It’s really rare a company is vertically integrated like this. We own a vessel, have relationships with fisherman, and we know the wholesale company we purchase directly from,” Ashley says.
“We have access to the best product and control over everything. But we also have a different perspective on how we can help people incorporate more fish into their diets.”
First, the Beseckers knew the fish had to be blast frozen on the boat or dockside. Blast freezing is the process of quickly getting the fresh fish to -35 degree F, which kills the parasites and maintains the nutritional integrity of the fish. It’s what makes fish “sushi and sashimi grade.” Basically, it ensures the highest quality possible.
The other non-negotiables were that the fish be deboned at the time of freezing and portioned out for packaging. Through Premier Catch, you can purchase a whole fillet or a single serving, depending on your family’s unique needs.
“Our biggest mission is to make eating wild premium seafood easy,” Ashley says.
The next big step was to get a mobile freezer truck, they affectionately named Saucy, to set up pop-up events at local wineries and shopping areas. They immediately gained a loyal local following, and in 2021, began an online service.
Now, two years in business, they expanded to offer delivery to all 50 states, plus live events, as well as plenty of online content to help educate consumers on the benefits of eating fish and how to do it so it tastes good to everyone.
“The seafood industry is a rough and gruff, traditionally male-centered place. We’re here to find the beauty in seafood. We see things differently and find what is missing,” Joci says.
One of the ways they are helping to spread the word is by being involved with the National Seafood Council Task Force and Expert Working Group. “As of now, there is no such thing as the national Seafood Council. Which is crazy. There’s a national beef council, national dairy council … even a national walnut council,” Ashley says. “We want to help them with their goals in regard to climate health, Americans’ health, and ocean health.”
To learn more about Premier Catch, please visit premiercatch.com.